100w/channel into two channels, 80W/channel in 6.1 mode, six channel on-board discrete amplification, Crystal CS493263 DSP and CS42518 24-bit/192kHz
multi DAC, decoder capable of processing Dolby Digital 5.1; DTS 5.1; Dolby Digital EX 6.1; DTS ES 6.1; Dolby Pro Logic; Dolby Pro Logic II, component/S-Video/composite connections, electrical and optical digital inputs and outputs, 6.1 inputs and outputs, six line level inputs with a tape monitor, FM/MW RDS tuner with 40 presets, low-resonance and acoustically damped chassis, all-metal casework with a solid aluminium front panel, slim-line Azur remote control with aluminium top panel
Excellent value for money, agree with most reviews here. I'm running my 540R with JM Lab Chorus 715's & a Sony SA-WM500 Sub which sounds excellent if lacking a bit of mid-range. My biggest gripe is the remote, it barely works! I have to point it directly at the unit to get i to work & it only picks up 3m max.
I have heard this unit with other speakers & for the price i have to say it's comparible to more expensive amps. I had some issues with my first 540R (i'm on my 2nd now) & it needed replacing after continuously cutting out on me. The customer service (i'm in Australia) from the place of purchase as well as response direct from Cambridge Audio was EXCELLENT. Not used to such fantastic after sales support, looking forward to upgrading my system with more Cambridge Audio products.
I will confine my remarks to comparison to my Luxman RV-371 receiver whose sonic signature is permenantly wired into my brain having bought it in the early '90's, that recently passed away due to a mysterious illness. (...a moment of silence, please...) I bought the 540 v2 as a stop-gap until I can afford separates again, then it will either be used as a pre/pro or be relegated to the back seat of the system and used in HT pass-thru or something for movies. Bear in mind that the Lux originally cost $1,600 - so quality comparisons are bound to be a bit unfair. I use the only-availible paiir of analog inputs for CD playback. The speakers are Magnat MSP 120's - 3-way, 4-ohm, nearly-full range, sealed towers.
The sound is warm, full and with excellent soundstaging. The soundstage is every bit as wide as the Lux, maybe even wider, but, a tad flatter. The bass has a lot of heft, but is not super tight - not too loose, either, just so so. Still, mid-bass slam is better than the Lux - itself not nessecarily a standout in this area. But, bass muscle, good - but, not perfect - bass extension, and the ability to play loud without the bass running out of steam makes for surprisingly punchy bass. For example I"m already well aware, listening to Intrada's soundtrack CD for Jerry Goldsmith's Alien, that the fiercely-plucked strings are designed to catch you off guard. Although I knew what was coming, on the 540 at moderate volume, I still flinched - repeatedly! ...talk about jump factor... So, this little machine did find an area to in which to cleary beat a receiver that cost more than twice its price...I was impressed. But, if the bass was more dynamic it was also, compared to the Lux, more rythmically challenged. The more full-fledged the rythm, the more problems with timing it seemed to have - the out-right sense of pace being obscured the most. The ability of the amp to engage returned as musical interludes that did not invole a perponderance of rythm were encountered. Furthermore, the midrange throughout was somewhat opaque after the Lux. This combo of 2 left feet in the rythm department and the opaqueness in the mids is ultimately the Achilles' heel of this machine for me. That makes it, in the long run, perhaps too uninvolving (the punchy, dynamic bass notwithstanding) to be relied on as the center-piece in a discerning system. Of course, for anyone, me included, to expect to find such an object for the going rate of 400 bucks is a bit of a pipe dream, I have to admit. But, this gets me up and running until I can try something better - perhaps Emotiva gear, or something. OBTW, in doing my homework on this device, I came across a British website that listened to both the v2 and v3 and they claimed an increase in the hardness after the volume was turned up for the v3 that they didn't hear claim to notice in the v2. Althgough I have no way to confirm, nor have I seen any corobberating info before or since, I still considered it significant. Cambridge redesigned the amp section of the v3 to be fully discrete and rerouted signal paths to fix undisclosed "problems".
This is a brilliant amp for the money. i have been slowly upgrading every component in my system and decided on this amp. when i first purchased it, it was running through incredibly cheap speakers but i thought i still sounded great. I have since purchased KEF 2way floorstanding speakers and run them bi wired. The clarity is amazing! it is like nothing I have ever owned. i know this is far from hi-end audio but to me it sound brilliant. I have found that letting the amp warm up for say 20mins before listening yields a much better sound. i try to leave it swirched on now when i can as to keep it warmed up so it always sounds its best.
an old adage - what's better than one cake? answer two cakes!
and what's better than two channels? - 5.1 channels! which is what the hifi industry would have us believe, and some are trying really hard to convince us!
Having used SACD's in a stereo player up till recently, hoping to gain some 24bit quality on a budget, I was still not convinced, so decided to try for the full monty - ok if i don't like it everything could be returned within x amount of days as is Richer sounds consumer- friendly policy for the adventurous audiophile not wishing/worrying about dropping a clanger and be stuck with something they hate - it works, I am a loyal customer!
The 540C v2 is certainly a big step in the right direction, using a DVD 89 player (£199- handles SACD/DVD-Audio/CD), once you have connected it all up it the playback mode (stereo, 5.1 whatever) needs to be configured on a TV screen, so connection to the TV is essential for setting up. Once done, you need to make sure you feed it with a genuine 5.1 channel disc, as some recordings play only 4 channels with no centre speaker or sub channel (spent half a day working that out! - every wiring configuration you can imagine). I had 4 redundant Heybrook HB2 speakers to hand and now each connected together with Kimber 4TC cable are an integral part of my hifi/surround system, plus a Monitor Audio Bronze centre speaker, the closest match I could find, now I may get a sub, but the bass produced is more than adequate so maybe not.
The sound from this system is absolutely amazing, each channel clearly defined, it brings the music into a new dimension - "Brothers in Arms" like you've never heard it before. The 540C has amazing quality, not quite as good as my Cyrus 2 but it passes with flying colours, I can highly recommend the surround sound as an extension to my hifi system, and another string to its bow is that with aforementioned telly live concerts are an experience - I swear I was sitting on stage with Led Zeppelin during their acoustic set, instead of the back of the auditorium. I still have more films and sounds to experience, so far well impressed!
I don't understand the positive reviews. It's a nice-looking, high-end appearing, very average multi-channel receiver. It might actually sound OK with cheap speakers or a low-end sub. But for those looking for a little detail with their low-end, keep searching. Though you won't find a "loudness" button here, it's presence is felt in spirit. Bass is fat, slow, lazy, and sluggish. Sometimes it's not even there at all, incompletely, lacking any sense of rhythm, the worst pacing I've ever heard.
As far as British "mid-forward" sound goes, I guess this is it... mids are pleasant enough and highs avoid being shrill. But then the fat sluggish bass is so over-emphasised... which I could deal with if it were detailed.
And at $699... there are so many far far far better options. This is low-end dressed for the high-end. Weak, not a condender.